Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill Passes on Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha passed on Tuesday by voice vote the Juvenile Justice Bill, which seeks to amend the law to allow trying those over 16 years of age and accused of heinous crimes, as adults. The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill.

The Left walked out before the vote after CPIM leader Sitaram Yechury suggested that the bill be sent to a parliamentary panel called a select committee, for review.

The vote came at the end of a debate piloted by Maneka Gandhi, union minister for women and child development, who made a strong pitch for it saying it could not be “more nuanced and compassionate.”

Present in Parliament as the house debated the Bill were Asha Devi and Badrinath, the parents of Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medical student who was gang-raped by six men on a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died in a Singapore hospital 13 days later.

Ever since, Jyoti’s parents have demanded a change in the law. While Jyoti’s other attackers have been sentenced to death, the youngest was released on Sunday after three years in a remand home. Now 20, he could not be tried in court for the brutal murder as he was a few months short of 18 at the time of the attack.

There have been massive protests over his release and public sentiment brought pressure on political parties as they debated the change in law. The Congress, crucial to any vote in the Rajya Sabha because of its superior numbers, voted for the bill, though many of its leaders had said they favoured sending it to a select committee.

Speaking during the discussion, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, said that the government was rushing to pass the bill due to protests over the release of the juvenile offender.

He emphasized on the need to broaden the scope of the bill, he said “juveniles should be made to attend classes where they can be trained and made to realize their mistakes.”

Today’s amendment will not affect the juvenile offender in the Delhi gang-rape case.

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